In our industry, we have all stated how important it is to listen to our customers, but do we really? Most companies utilize some type of customer feedback system but the bigger question is not what information we collect, but rather what we do with the results. There are three main steps that need to take place:
- Look at what questions are being asked. You can’t do anything with the data if the questions aren’t correct.
- React to the results. Create action plans to internally deal with the feedback.
- Follow up with the customers – both those with positive and negative feedback.
Take A Look At The Questions That Are Asked
Make sure you are comfortable with the questions being asked of customers. Often, the results of customer surveys are ignored because the staff says the questions weren’t asked properly or they were taken out of context. Take away the excuse and instead, focus on fixing the problem. When you hand off your contact database to your market research company ensure the information is complete so that you can maximize the number of clients contacted. Give clients the option to be anonymous so that they have the confidence to give you honest opinions.
Customer surveys should focus on three main areas:
- Rating systems: Ask for feedback on basic functions such as quality of repair, garment upgrades, cleaning levels, service rep performance and office efficiency. The best way to garner feedback that is worthwhile and easy to measure is to use a 1 to 5 scale for answers.
- Open-ended questions: Find out what you are doing well and where you can improve. This can include asking for additional information as a follow-up to the rating questions. If someone ranks you a “1” on something, ask them what you could do to improve that area. If a customer ranks you as a “5” in an area, ask them what you are doing that helps set you apart. This is also an opportunity to see how well the messages and processes that the company believes in are being executed properly. For example, one question might be: “Is your Service Representative proactively telling you the customer, weekly about the actions they are taking to maximize service to you and solve any of your service needs?” Another question might be “If there were one additional step we could take as your Service Provider to provide you with optimum service, what would it be?”
- Evaluate their overall satisfaction at this moment: Ask the question, “If you had to make the decision right now, would you be willing to renew your agreement today?” Give them the options of: definitely not renew, most likely not renew, I’d consider renewing, most likely renew, or definitely renew. Also, one of the best ways to measure true satisfaction is to ask your customers if they would recommend your company to a friend or colleague. The highest compliment a company can receive is an endorsement and recommendation from an extremely pleased customer. Consider the below graphic:
React To The Results – Internally
Successful companies understand it is imperative to act quickly on feedback that is received from customers. This feedback enables companies to be able to repair previously damaged relationships and learn specifically what they can do to retain business. It is important to have both an internal and external approach to dealing with the results you receive.
Based on what you’ve learned, put together action plans for each department to improve their level of service. Address the concerns brought up by your customers. Chances are, if a few of them are willing to share their negative experiences, there are probably other instances that aren’t being reported. After all, these surveys are meant to represent a much larger group of customers. View the results as an opportunity to learn more about how your customers view you and where you need to spend your time and energy improving.
Remember to execute the feedback that is given in a reasonable and measured fashion. Keep your questions streamlined and simple. Feedback is useless unless companies utilize that feedback for positive results and to put into place actions plans and timely follow-up.
React To The Results – Externally
When surveyed customers are satisfied, it is worthwhile to show true appreciation for their feedback. Too often, companies focus on the negative and forget those customers who are satisfied. If they are comfortable not being anonymous, make it a habit to make thank you phone calls to customers that take the time to report their positive experiences. For those with a less than positive experience who shared their contact information, follow up individually with each customer to share with them what you are doing to improve areas that they mentioned and thank them for their honest feedback.
To successfully grow your business, it is imperative that you not only solicit feedback from your customers, but that you actually use it to improve your services. Make sure you are asking the right questions. If you are using a third party to do the research, take the time to review all their data and use a service that not only provides the research results but also gives insights on what to do with the information you’ve learned. Finally, react to the results internally and externally. Once you set a benchmark with your results, you’ll see dramatic improvements in your customer satisfaction – and your overall business – if you take the time to listen to what your customers are saying and do something about it.
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